CHARLIE Kelman has signed his first professional contract with Southend United.

The 17-year-old scored a stunning goal on his League debut for the Shrimpers against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.

And Kelman - who grew up watching Blues - is thrilled to have committed his future to his hometown club.

“It’s a dream,” said Kelman, after signing a two-and-a-half year deal.

“I used to be a season ticket holder at Southend and I used to sit there with my friends and think ‘I want to get out there’ so it’s great to be doing that.

“I’ve been working hard and it’s good when it pays off.

“When you’re four years old and kicking a ball around, you never think it will come this quick so I’m really pleased.”

Kelman, a former Bromfords School pupil in Wickford, joined Blues at the age of 15 following his return from living in America.

The striker scored a staggering 61 goals for the under-16s last season and has taken that form into the under-18s this time around, scoring 18 times in 21 outings.

And the youngster was keen to thank those who have helped him succeed.

“A lot of people have helped me get here,” said Kelman.

“My coaches, my family, my nan and grandad, but the biggest one has been my mum.

“She’s been there since I went off track when I was 14 and we’ve been through a lot of hard times together, so it’s all for her.

“Without her I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

And Kelman was also quick to praise Blues’ academy manager Ricky Duncan.

“I’ve worked closely with Ricky and he’s never done me wrong,” said Kelman.

“He’s always put my development first but I love this club so I knew that this was the best place for me.”

Kelman will now be looking to build on his eye-catching debut but insists he will not be getting carried away.

“The hard work starts now, more so than before I got my contract,” said Kelman.

“Now it’s time to kick on and show that I’m not just about the goal against Plymouth.”

And Blues boss Chris Powell is also pleased to have secured Kelman’s services.

“It’s a fantastic moment for Charlie and his family and us as a football club. I’m extremely pleased and proud of him,” Powell added.